Notching his second victory in as many contention appearances, Congressional District 4 Democratic candidate Josh Welle this afternoon defeated Jim Keady for the Ocean County Democratic Party line at an Ocean County Dems Chairman Wyatt Earp-hosted mini-convention in Bayville.
The vote tally was 40-16.
“Each day, the support for our campaign grows,” Welle said. “Ocean County Democrats want 21st Century jobs, fair taxes, affordable accessible healthcare and communities and schools safe from guns.
“I’m honored to have the support of the Ocean County Democratic Committee and look forward to working with our candidates up and down the ballot,” the victor added.
Just a week ago, in the first true test of the Democratic Primary season, Welle beat Keady in Monmouth County, and today could amplify that win as he jockeys to represent the party this year against U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4). A retired U.S. Navy officer who served in the Middle East, Welle has a little more than double Keady’s cash on hand in their primary tilt, but struggled on the trail early to combat Keady’s read meat progressivism. He somewhat recalibrated, in time to score organizational wins in Monmouth and now Ocean.
But with Mercer remaining among those relevant counties in the 4th District, Keady appears poised to soldier onward, a source close to the congressional candidate told InsiderNJ. A tavern owner and dock-front activist, Keady feels he has a responsibility to his base – those progressives who felt galvanized by his message.
“Definitely,” Keady spokesman Ryan Hughes told InsiderNJ when asked if the candidate plans to stay in the contest. “Jim’s grassroots support in the 4th District is unprecedented for any Democrat in this district – or Republican, for that matter. Although we came up short in Ocean, we are looking forward to bringing this primary campaign to the doorsteps of every voter in the fighting 4th.”
Pat Politano, spokesman for Welle, said it was time for Keady to rethink his strategy.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm of Mr. Keady and his supporters,” Politano told InsiderNJ, “but it’s close to the time they consider the common goal of beating Chris Smith.”
Although the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – bucked up by President Donald J. Trump’s unpopularity in New Jersey and in search of 28 seats to forge a new majority in the House of Representatives – has targeted the 4th District, Smith defeated his last general election opponent by a nearly 2-1 margin.